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Give elephant seal a wide berth

Aucklanders have an unexpected Christmas guest on the beach, in the form of an elephant seal.

Normally resident in the sub-Antarctic islands, elephant seals do occasionally visit mainland coastlines.

The large female elephant seal has been popping up on Auckland beaches since Sunday morning, is an adult, and probably weighs just under a tonne.

Department of Conservation (DOC) Senior Biodiversity Ranger Thelma Wilson says elephant seals are very rare visitors to Auckland beaches, and it’s important to keep a respectful and very safe distance.

“Elephant seals are big and heavy, but they can move surprisingly quickly.

“They’re also well camouflaged and if you are not expecting to see one, will blend in with rocks. Beachgoers should be alert, keep an eye out and give seals a wide berth.

“Never forget that elephant seals are wild animals and will defend themselves if they feel threatened. Remember to give the elephant seal some space so that it has a pleasant holiday.”

• Always keep dogs on a leash, under control and at least 20 metres away from seals
• Ensure you keep small children at a safe distance and under your control when watching seals
• Avoid getting closer than 20 metres
• Do not get between the seal and the sea
• Do not touch or feed the seal

Thelma Wilson says it’s unusual, although not unheard of, to see elephant seals this far north, as they’re usually more likely to visit the South Island.


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